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Saturday, March 28, 2009

It's the End of the Show as We Know It

I got to work last night at 4:30 pm and was handed a full page of new text to learn for the final performance of the original version of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show (La Legende de Buffalo Bill), Disney Village, Disneyland Paris France. I'm not sure who wrote the text but I'm going to hazard a guess he or she doesn't make a living as a writer. The intentions were good but it just didn't work. So I re-wrote the speech and during the final revue of the second show delivered it, with some improvisation of course. Because I am blessed with a short memory, I paused slightly in places for my brain to catch up, which had the affect of adding drama and emotion to the speech. You'll have to imagine that part as you read. Here's how the show's run, in it's original form, ended:

(Old text) Folks, we hope you have enjoyed yourselves, and we hope you will all come back and return with us again to the legendary world of the pioneer days on the great American plains.
(New speech)
Although if you do, your experience will be very different than it was here tonight. Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show first played under this roof 17 years ago, back in 1992. Some of the original cast are still with us here tonight. I want to thank them for their dedication and spirit (audience and cast applaud) and I want to thank all of our esteemed guests who have patronized our show over the years. But now, after more than 11,000 shows in front of more than 11 million people, tonight's performance marks the last of it's kind. Starting next week our show will feature Mickey Mouse and Friends (unsolicited hoot of laughter from the audience) That's the reaction I often get when I talk about this. Mickey and his Friends will add a new flavor of fun and magic to our show, while retaining all the excitement of the original. We hope you all come back and see our new show. But now, to mark the end of an era and the beginning of a new one, some of my Native American friends have asked to perform for you an inter-tribal song.
As Auguste Durand Rouel (Didier) translates, Kave, Wiley, and Petit Loup bring a drum onstage. Sitting Bull (Shawn) joins them as they perform a very moving Native American Indian song. The audience and cast explode in applause that lasts almost until the drum is carried off stage. Their last few steps are taken in heavy silence before I start my final text:
Just remember - wherever there's a sunset, there's a West. But there was only one... BUFFALO BILL'S WILD WEST !!

We all exchanged compliments and condolensces afterwards, and posed for a last-minute improvised group photo (thankfully our biggest fan, photographer, and all-around good guy Marc Veillard was there with his camera or even that would not likely have happened).
Now it's the next day and in two hours I'll be attending the dress rehearsal for the Mickey-fication of what had become a 17-year old institution, tradition, and legend in its own right. I still hold on to a shred of optimism, or maybe I should say I have the audacity to hope, that all this pomp and ceremony of a "final show" will fuel the version of Murphy's law that causes things to go the opposite of planned, and we will one day revert back again to a re-energized production of the original show. Until then, a big, fat, gritted-teeth, vein-popping, bone-crushing hug to our newest cast member..

M I C ... see you real soon!
K E Y ... why? Because we LIKE you!
M O U S E !!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As usual, well said Trent. I cannot believe that they have the audacity to let this kind of thing happen, to a show that meant so much to so many, for so long. I hope Kevin is reading this, and I hope he knows that although it might not have been his idea, it crosses his desk first.