Friday, March 11, 2011

10 years of Shadowbox

Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 9:46pm
In February 2001 (very early in our relationship) Anna and I decided to spend a day in Columbus, Ohio, and stay long enough to check out whatever this Shadowbox thing was all about. I had found a reference to it on the "Experience Columbus" website (the official Columbus visitor information center) which piqued my interest.

We really had no idea what we were getting into—no one we knew had ever been there. Although it was at the fancy Easton Mall in Columbus, the Shadowbox entrance turned out to be hidden down a long hallway leading to the bathrooms. It was a bit disconcerting as we met a scary Goth/vampire kinda guy they call "The Beast" (who also serves as the drummer) in all his glory at the front desk when we entered. Our waitress right off the bat offered me "oral pleasure" (which turned out to be the name of the drink of the night—I had a Diet Coke instead). Between that and the whole "virgin" thing (they have some fun referring to first-time customers as virgins), we just weren't sure what we were getting into!

However, everyone was so nice to us and it proved to be great fun. Shadowbox turned out to be a bit like Saturday Night Live, but with music interspersed between nearly all the sketches. The live music was incredible (and is sometimes accompanied by creative dance routines). The skits were hilarious (and sometimes thought provoking), with phenomenal performers. It was quite a memorable night!

We continue to be huge fans, and have been fortunate to get to know a lot of the cast members over the years. Indeed, it is the personal connection that is made when the stars are also bringing your food and drink which makes Shadowbox so fun for us. The talented performers are not segregated away from the audience. It is a non-profit business (which refuses government grants) where everyone wears many hats to put on a great show, from star to accountant to cook to selling tickets to cleaning the floors. Most of their performers can also multi-task as singers, musicians, dancers, and/or actors.

We can't say that we have seen every show since February 2001, but we have always attended at least a few each year (and usually the annual "Best of Shadowbox" show at their Newport, Kentucky location across from Cincinnati), and have never been disappointed. We also have enjoyed the musical theater shows that they produce on Sundays, such as their Woodstock tribute (Back to the Garden), the Rocky Horror Picture Show, A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum, etc. The outdoor performance of Back to the Garden this past summer will be a real lifetime memory for me. I am old enough to remember the original Woodstock, but was too young to attend; however, Shadowbox enabled me to get that experience (without the mud and drugs).

We quickly went from merely Shadowbox fans to fanatics over the past ten years. I may never get to sit in the audience for a Saturday Night Live show, but I think I've been able to see something just as good. If you ever have a chance, I highly recommend ShadowboxLive.  It's worth the two hour drive from Parkersburg to Columbus.

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