For all those who are going to say, "I thought you said you weren't going to stand in line all day!"... I did. Yup, I did. And I continued to say it throughout the day. Yup - all day... Feet killing me... Back killing me... Not so silently wondering if I'd completely lost my mind...
AND IT WAS WORTH EVERY SECOND!!!! LOL!
I had a blast at the QVC taping! As others have mentioned, it was loads of fun standing around hearing all of the Manilow stories from all the years. A lot of funny anecdotes about standing in lines for tickets, sleeping on sidewalks - the old days when Barry would have coffee or donuts or whatever sent to the fans standing in line... Or hearing one person mention their first concert, and having someone else from a different part of the country pipe up to say, "I was there!" It was just fun.
There was the usual confusion that goes along with an event like this. Do we line up here? Or there? Or where? But it was great! Camaraderie. No arguments about places in line - allowing folks to take a break, but honoring their spot in the line. It was a great experience, and the taping hadn't even started yet!
When it finally came time for us to go into the ballroom, I couldn't believe that I was actually on the front row. I thought I was going to be at least 4 or 5 rows back. I was thrilled - and I was also a little scared! But mainly thrilled...
All of the BMIFC seats were to the right side of the stage (right side from Barry's point of view). There were a couple of rows of about 4 seats each that were closest, then the rest of the rows were to the side of that. That's where I was sitting. But it was close enough!
The QVC folks came around to give us instructions a couple of times - one guy came around and said no photography. Normally that would have disappointed me, but it really didn't this time. I guess it didn't bother me because I knew that I would have plenty of close-up views of Barry on the recording. Of course, I didn't know at the time that my DirecTV would flake out on me and I wouldn't get the recording! But that's beside the point... I just didn't miss having a camera this time. (But I would at a normal show!)
A QVC lady came around and told us to try not to look at the cameras. She said, "I know it will be hard for you, but try to focus your attention on Barry." Ha! Yes, that would be torture... I'm surprised any of us survived. NOT!! Who cares about a silly camera when we have Barry to look at?!? The lady also told us that we needed to try really hard not to look at the camera that panned the audience from above, because it would give the TV audience a view right up our nose! Not a pretty mental image!
I really was a little apprehensive - part of me was excited because I had a clear view of Barry, but that also meant that cameras had a clear view of me. I just knew I was going to look like a dork on TV. I actually was on TV once before. When I was about 7 - I was in Camp Fire Girls, and our group was invited to be on a local kiddie show. The host dressed up like a clown, had cartoons, etc... I remember we were all told to walk up and greet him - and when it came my turn, he smiled so sweetly and called me "little ski-jump nose". And a few minutes later the main camera broke, and he started using every 4-letter word in every combination you could possibly imagine!!! Ha! (Mommy, why is the clown man yelling??) The mothers were horrified. And the kids were oblivious, because we really didn't know what those words meant.
Anyway, everyone started looking around trying to see where Barry might make his entrance. Someone pointed at a door that was behind the QVC portion of the audience - and about that time it opened a crack and I saw Barry standing in there. He walked out just a couple of minutes later.
He climbed up on the stage, to thunderous applause. Seriously. Earlier the hostess of the show (Carolyn) had told us that even though we were only about 100 people, we needed to sound like a couple of thousand. Not a problem... We did quite well.
Barry said, "Hi, everybody!" More applause. It was interesting to view. The lights were all on the Carolyn. Barry just kind of walked around the stage - he sang a few notes of one of the songs, cleared his throat a little - the audience giggled. Barry said, "Not even close!" The audience laughed louder.
A couple of minutes later, Barry said "Does anyone know these songs?" or something like that. I took it to mean that he was joking that he didn't have a clue what he was about to sing. He was really cute. In fact, at one point Carolyn made a comment about Barry being silly - and that's what she was talking about. From my point of view, watching Barry before the show actually started and during the commercials was as much fun as seeing him actually perform the songs.
When Barry was sitting on the stool talking to the lady, his back was mainly to us. He also had his back to us when he was playing the piano. But when he stood at the mic, or walked around the stage with mic in hand, he made a point to turn and sing to us a few times.
He didn't turn toward us on the first song. But by the second time he had walked to the piano, it looked like he noticed us. And from that point on, he made sure we got a little of the performance directed toward us even though most of the time he had to play to the camera. During I Can't Give You Anything But Love, he gave us a big smile.
I thought Barry did an excellent job with the arrangements and interpretations of the songs he selected. And his voice sounded fantastic. It's hard to choose a favorite song. I loved the softness of We've Only Just Begun. He was also very soft on The Look of Love, yet at the same time, the chorus was much stronger. He just did a fantastic job of bringing these songs to life.
When Where Do I Begin was introduced, Barry said, "I have to build myself up." And then he really played the part of building himself up to perform the song. I think it was half being silly and half being serious. But it was fun to watch, and it was a great performance. At the end of the song, Barry turned his head to the side (toward us), gave us one of his big-eyed, comical looks as he took a deep breath - but at the same time, you could tell he was mustering up what it was going to take for the powerful ending of the song. I just love moments like that - they're fun, they're fascinating to watch - and at the same time, the actual performance gave me chills. We gave Barry a standing ovation for that one - he seemed a little surprised. He turned around toward us and bowed (off camera, I think - it didn't look like the lights were on him).
You Made Me Love You kind of had the feel of Can't Smile Without You. It felt like Barry was singing it to the fans - Barry gestured toward us, smiled at us. It was the same kind of atmosphere as CSWY. And that was the closing song. Man, that was a short hour!
After the show went off the air, Barry walked down to us and a couple of the fans got handshakes. Don't know if he had intended to try to shake more hands - but people were starting to crowd around him - so he left.
I wouldn't take anything for this experience. It was priceless. It was great getting to see/hear these brand new songs for the first time. And it was great seeing how Barry interpreted them at this point - because I know it will change. But I think what means just as much to me is the experience of watching Barry between the songs, during the commercials or during the introductions. Watching him jump between personas, on-camera, off-camera - building himself up into performance mode. You can see a little of it in Vegas at times - but from my point of view, anyway, this was more pronounced. Maybe because the spotlights wouldn't be on him - the attention wasn't on him, at least from the TV audience. I just really enjoyed that part of it all. Call me crazy...
At any rate, I can't thank Stiletto and QVC enough for giving us this opportunity. I was thrilled when I got the email saying I had a ticket, and even more so as the day unfolded. It was a fantastic experience!
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©Dana L. Holland 1980-2020 Manilow - The Absolute Best