Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Camp Fabulous!  Gala 2008

It’s officially fall!  The air is chilly, and I’m sitting here in my Yale hoodie (did I mention my best friend is going to Yale for grad school.. I’m a little proud…)  

And I’m not at school.  This is the second year this has occurred, but I’m still not used to it.  I mean- when you go to school for fourteen years or something ridiculous- it’s a little hard to train your body and your biological clock to not automatically associate early sunsets and crisp nights with having classes and moving back into a dorm.  But alas here I am- and once again I am so ok with it.

Not being in school that is, not necessarily being home…. In Maine (although everyone else thinks it's pretty cool...)

Let me back up a little bit.  I am still coming down from a really surreal, emotional, intensely fabulous weekend.  It involved another camp fundraiser that Maisy was in, but for the first time, I was not in the show.  I spent the weekend trying to figure out what my role was, but in the end I did discover it and was completely thrilled.  I had an alumni committee meeting the day of the gala, and it’s a small group of people made up of campers, counselors, and board members.  It’s quite an honor considering how many people have graduated from there in 20 years!  We discussed opportunities for alumni events, and went over the beginning seed of a social networking site (a la facebook) that will just be for camp alumni.   There were some great things discussed, and it’s good to know I am not done with my camp involvement.  …and I have a feeling I won’t be for some time.

I don’t know how to explain this without sounding arrogant, and I want to preface by saying that is not my intention at all- but I am kind of a big deal there.  People from the board of directors were bringing me around to meet people to tell them about camp (specifically, former Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax…)  and I would introduce myself to people saying, “I’m Mallory,”  80% of the time their response was “Oh, I know!  I saw you in New York!  (or… on the video… or the giant banner at the 20th reunion)”  It was kind of amazing.  I mean… I chalk myself up to being pretty fabulous around here… but to see it was true there was kind of intense. 


Not to mention the schmoozing and chilling I did with some fabulous theater folk.  I have gotten pretty tight with the musical director of the show (what is it with me befriending musical directors? ) Mary-Mitchell Campbell since she did my first gala in 1998, and we’ve been working together for 10 years.  She knows I’m pretty knowledgeable about the world of Broadway and is the one who hooked me with front row seats to Next to Normal, back in March.  The director (James Naughton) and all the costume people and even the stage crew know who I am, so I basically had free run of the theater and spent the first afternoon watching the sound crew work to get things ready.  It was a little weird to not have to be in rehearsal, so I had a lot of free time, and that night I found myself having pizza and wine in the dining hall with some lovely sound boys!  I am not one to mingle with techies usually, but my perception has totally changed!  One of them works on Hairspray and Jersey Boys on Broadway, and the other (who totally reminded me of Anthony Rapp) was leaving for Rome with Liza Minelli!  ...and of course they were all from New York.  

The next night was the an incredible, catered, surf and turf dinner where all the camp, board, and theater people came together for a night of celebrating everything that was going to occur the next day.  It was my first time of what happens after the campers go to bed, and it was amazing.  The dining hall was transformed into a candlelit dinner reminiscent of the Great Hall at Hogwarts. Mary Mitchell quickly found me and asked if I had met Tituss yet (Tituss Burgess- of Sebastian in the Little Mermaid, and Jersey Boys fame) I said I hadn’t and she quickly introduced us. He was absolutely lovely and joined us in the festivities til almost 2 a.m!  Nothing like partying like a Broadway Rockstar…

I ended up chatting for quite some time with someone from the main camp office who works on the promotion of camp.   I mentioned to him how in school I was a creative writing major and had written a piece about camp for my portfolio. In it I had said “Camp isn’t something that can be described with words.”  And the critique I receive was, “But you’re a writer… you have to!”  He replied that he totally understood what I meant, because that is his job is to portray camp so it will receive funding.  Long story short, we really connected and he wants me to speak to the board at some point!  It was the most amazing, thrilling networking I’ve ever done.  And I realized one thing.  I was passionate. I cared.  I was honest.  I was me 105%.  That's the thing about camp...

The next day was the day of the show and GALA Day!  I had my alumni meeting, and then we attended the auction which was completely overwhelmingly powerful!  One of my old counselors, Bud was there, so I sat by him (Aka Calvin Trillin

Keith Richards auctioned off a guitar that went for $30,000 (which one of my friends and I had to help set up earlier in the day!  Ahem…) 

Sandy Kofax (who I had mingled with earlier and had NO IDEA ….I fail) auctioned off a signed bottle of champagne he won in the World Series.  Alec Baldwin was there hanging out and bid $12,000 which he ended up giving to the guy who was bidding against him.

Among other things, we got the most choked up when a poster of Paul Newman in Exodus had speed fire bidding and went for $30,000.  Remember- all of the money made goes to the camp, so kids with serious illnesses can attend for free. You really have to be there to understand the power of it all, but it was such an amazing experience, I was so thrilled to be a part of it. 

When it was time for the show, we ended up being in the third show, between Sandy Kofax (who by now I knew pretty well!)…and Lissy Newman…and her kids.  Making them the Newman grandchildren.  The show was incredible.  It was such a thrill to be on the other side of the stage and to see what happened in the audience.  It was so incredible to be seeing my baby sister who has been doing camp fundraisers since she was four, up there on stage, now transformed into a chorus line showgirl sharing a stage with Bette Midler.  Not to mention that when I was four, my mom and I used to dance in her bedroom to Bette Midler… now we were watching our baby up there singing with her!  I kept elbowing my mom saying “did ya ever think!!?!!!”

At one point, Lissy got up and gave a speech on behalf of her family.  She didn’t intend too, but she knew she had too.  I cried harder than I had cried all day.  Later that night I saw her in the dining hall and talked to her.  I told her I was so happy she could be there, and it was so important that those blue eyes could have a presence there that night.

After the show, I bypassed the masses and just went back stage to see my baby sis.  The only person guarding the door was Matt (my Anthony Rapp sound guy) and he said “uh, I dunno, you guys have pretty much been here for the run… go ahead!”  I got to the green room right as Bette was finishing taking pics with the kids, and I swooped in to congratulate my sister on an amazing job.  I was so proud of her.  It has always been us, but this was ALL HER.  And she rocked it

The next morning there was breakfast to be had with Jim Naughton and his family, and John Pizzarelli and his lovely daughter Maddie (who reminds me so much of Maisy!)  He is married to Jessica Molaskey (Songs for a New World anyone?) and they are the most enjoyable, down to earth people ever!  They were incredible performers too.  I got to thank them for being a part of the gala, and it was so cool.  I think that’s another thing about camp is how it is so humanizing and really lets you just get to know celebs like regular people….cause…well they are!

So… now I’m home.
and a little lost.
The more I travel and do fabulous things I realize THAT’S where I’m at home.
  I like being known, I like doing big things.  It’s starting to really hit me that people say, when I tell them I’m from Maine “…you’re so much more than that!”  I’m starting to believe it myself.

I know, I know everything will happen when it’s meant to, but I just felt something so powerful… I don’t think we have seen the last of each other!  Even if I have to pay $1500 to go to another gala, I’ll do it.  I need to be there.  I need that sense of fulfillment that I don’t get anywhere else.
I guess bottom line, I just realized, once again what is really important, that I AM a big deal, and that I shouldn’t let silly Maine drama get me down.
  I have great things going for me.  People know who I am, and some day, when I’m ready, all my ducks will fall in line and I WILL end up where I’m meant to be, doing what I’m meant to do.

Everything else… is only for now ;-)



Amy said...

You made me cry and I've never gone to Camp..There are very few people who can say.."I have found my passion"..and my lady I believe you have. Maine is very much small town... However it is beautiful and has some other good points.. but you are right .. You belong where you can shine.. I am proud to say that I know you.. and well.. I can now brag that I have this friend who does all these amazing things...

BTW.. You need to write more...

ilene said...
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ilene said...

Thank you for articulating your '08 Gala experience, Mal. You are such a gifted communicator (among other things), and your personal history and access to very particular experiences and perspectives give you so much depth and significant territory to communicate *about.*

ALSO--Sandy Koufax?!? OMG!! I had no idea he was there. Or Bud, either, for that matter. Pretty much, as you know, I had no idea about anything other than my narrow tunnel of responsibilities. Anyway, I have Mr. Koufax's autograph from when I was a ten-year-old in Philly. I remember his kindness from back then. I'll tell you more about it when we tawk, whether in Maine (for my sake) or (for your sake) Manhattan. Come visit me and TG, why dontcha sometime. xo-noo

Princess Malphaba said...

Thanks guys! You prove that people actually read this thing. I know I need to write more....

I'm working on it, but it just seems that life flies by so fast and I get so busy, that all of a sudden I realize a month has gone by! For my faithful audience though- I will attempt to write more!