It has been quite the busy couple weeks. Last week started as tech for Dracula at the theatre and then ended with my flying out to Ithaca for the first ever All Theatre Alumni Reunion. The impetus for the event was the completion of the renovations on Dillingham Center, the home of the Department of Theatre Arts at Ithaca College. Ithaca College (not to be confused with Ithaca University from the movie Road Trip), or IC, is my alma mater for those who don’t know. Since graduation I have done my best to give to the college as my time there really made an impact on my life. My family and I were part of the 430-some-odd donors who raised over $80,000 for the renovation project. As such, I felt that it was important for me to go because of that and because it would be a fun opportunity to reconnect with friends from school and network with other alums.
The road to my getting to the reunion started well before waking up at 5AM to get to the airport last Friday. There are not enough words to express my love for my girlfriend who also got up at 5AM to get me there. However, before that I had to make sure that it would be OK with the powers that be in the theatre since I would be leaving town on opening night of one of the more technically challenging shows of the season which happened to be directed by our artistic director. I got the OK to go and was able to make the appropriate travel arrangements and fit into some semblance of a budget, so I was pretty happy. I sacrificed a ski pass to make it happen though, which I think was a decent trade off.
I flew into Syracuse, NY where I picked up a rental car and drove the rest of the way down to Ithaca. It was kind of fun getting on the highways there and remembering driving them so many times over the four years that I spent in school. Driving past the landmarks that I remembered and getting closer to Ithaca was very fun and very exciting. Driving down the last hill alongside Cayuga Lake and then through town, it almost felt like I had never really left. Realizing that the hotel that I had booked a room at was way on the opposite outskirts of town was a little disconcerting, but it wasn’t like I was going to be spending tons of time there!
The weekend kicked off with a welcome reception for all the alumni which was a little funky, but a good time. People drifted in slowly as they arrived in town so there were waves of excitement as people recognized old friends. It was a lot of fun to see all the people from my year and around my year and hear about what everyone is up to now. Then there were the people who “know” me on account of my father (who is also and IC alum). the most interesting of those people was my father’s college girlfriend Betsy. She was quite excited to meet me, and I have nothing against this on account of her buying my friends and I drinks!
Saturday brought the real festivities. The morning started with a tour of the newly renovated building. It was almost a private tour as there were only three other people who showed up at 9AM and they still sent out multiple tour groups. The new spaces look amazing, and the theatre department now has the use of the entire building, all the other departments that used to have offices there have been moved to other buildings on campus. It looks fabulous even though they say that for a program of that size they are still a few thousand square feet short of what they really could use.
After the tours there were dedications of named spaces around facility. I went to a few of these, but was not actually able to attend that one for named lockers, which I donated on of. Could be worse. I was at one of the student interaction panels where alumni got to talk to students pursuing similar fields of study. This really was a great thing, and I wish that it had been a little more organized and structured. I think it was probably a little overwhelming for both the alumni and the students. For me, this was one of the big reasons that I wanted to go to this event, to get to talk to the students, so I hope that in the future this is something that gets a little more planning.
Following a barbecue lunch a group of us headed off on a Finger Lakes wine tour headed by one of the faculty. This was a real hoot. We tasted some good wines, a bunch of bad wines, but in the end, it probably didn’t matter as everyone was having a blast. After two wineries we were definitely on the party bus as soon as Norm decided to put on some Lady GaGa. Yeah, the whole bus was dancing and singing and drinking.
Upon arriving back at IC, there was a little time to change before heading to the cocktail reception and gala dinner. I was smart enough to have put my nice clothes in my car when I left the hotel in the morning so I just found a bathroom and changed. There was a little more schmoozing and boozing with the alums and I had a chance to meet the new President of the college who seems to be a good guy.
The dinner and festivities were nice. Sitting with old friends was great. Here are most of us. The only thing that bugged me was the the photographer who was walking around would not take our picture with my camera. I thought that it was a rather stuck-up move as he kind of scoffed at my little point-and-shoot. I didn’t feel like lugging the nice camera around all evening. But really, I am a professional photographer and I would never hesitate to take someone’s photo picture with their own camera, it is just a nice, polite thing to do. Whatever.
Friends from my class and the years around it at the Reunion Gala
After dinner the Musical Theatre Majors sang for us, a song that I don’t actually remember. I do remember thinking that it would have been much more meaningful and memorable if they had chosen something different. The song that I would have picked would have been “What I did for Love” from A Chorus Line. I think that would have been very appropriate for the occasion, and would have made everyone cry.
After the singing, the party moved down the quad to Dillingham for the special Alumni-only performance of Chicago. It was an excellent show. The designs for the show were done by some notable alums including Paul Gallo (lighting) and Tony Meola (sound). The students were excellent and the show was so much fun. It was really cool to see Chicago at IC because it was the first show that I worked on after I graduated and moved out here to Utah. I enjoyed the show so much, I went back to see it again the next day!
After the performance we shifted venues one last time for the “Sherry Party” redux. Just one last occasion to schmooze with everyone before people started to go their separate ways. AS I was staying through until monday morning, I said goodbye to a bunch of people. Overall, it was a great time.
The rest of the weekend was a lot of fun. I had time to talk to a couple students, the chair of the department and my old professors. I saw the show again, and just generally enjoyed being back in Ithaca. It was a great weekend, and hopefully the first of many such events.