We had a Finger Lakes generational gap moment at the office the other day – all over a comedy act coming to the stage at Geneva’s Smith Opera House. Question: What do “Vicki Lawrence – a.k.a. Mama” and “The Wiggles” have in common? Answer: They both present generational icons which by the end of the day, have me saying, "I'm happy I grew up with Mama as opposed to the Wiggles!"
If you look through our blogs you’ll see that the Insiders are pretty much split in half generationally. We have our three quarter-century “kids” and we have our three half -century “moms”. I fall into the half-century type which explains why I noticed that Vicki Lawrence was coming to The Smith Opera House in Geneva for a show. I was interested in going – and so were some of my siblings. You see, we grew up with the Carol Burnett Show and we were excited that Vicki was in town. When I asked “the kids” if they’d like to go, not one of them had heard about Vicki Lawrence. Every one of the Moms had. Through that discussion, however, the 50-plus crowd learned about a very important icon of modern children's television – The Wiggles. Well, the ensuing discussion was quite lively as each of us questioned the others’ entertainment standards – and we did a little joint online searching. We did agree upon one thing as we reviewed the entertainment options that were available to us in Ontario County and the Finger Lakes.
I rarely like the phrase, “something for everyone”, but in this case, I think the entertainment schedule in the Finger Lakes can use it. I can’t list them all here – but check out even more options at the Smith Opera House – an 1895 theatre renowned for its acoustics, heritage and presentation of unique movies, theatre, and musical performances.
The building itself, as you can see by these pictures, is intricate in detail and an experience in itself.
My brother and I hadn’t been together at The Smith since I saw my very first movie there – “Bambi” - which was released in a year that I’ll let you look up for yourself! Looking for other entertainment in Geneva – don’t look past Hobart William Smith Colleges and all of their offerings throughout the year.
Nearby in Canandaigua is CMAC (Constellation Brands Performing Arts Center on the campus of Finger Lakes Community College). This outdoor, but covered amphitheatre was upgraded a few years ago and offers covered seating, high level side seating, huge videos of the performers and a schedule that just keeps going and going! Everything from the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra to Kenny Chesney to Barry Manilow have performed here. I don’t think that the Wiggles have been booked yet though!
And, one of my personal favorites is the Bristol Valley Theatre in Naples. You gotta love this “church-turned-theatre” and the summer stock plays and NYC-based actors and actresses it pulls in each year. There’s a great blend of mystery, music, and comedy. You can’t miss it when you go in to Naples; it’s the church with the purple theatre doors – a favorite of the photographers and artists who also inhabit and invade Naples in pursuit of great visuals. I’m a regular at the shows through the summer and haven’t yet been disappointed. And I can't forget the lobby. What’s cool about it is that they have a silent auction all summer long and it features everything from ceramics to prints to experiences that when sold, benefit the theatre. Plus, the cookies – which are made locally - are always themed to the show, making it a good excuse to pardon your eating some sweets for another night!
But, I do digress from Vicki and Mama – who both appeared on stage. No, as Vicki would point out, they cannot appear together. First half of the performance was Vicki’s reflections and stories about how she got on the Carol Burnett show. In her words, “by being a bimbo who showed up as free entertainment for the Fireman’s annual ball”. Vicki shared some of her funnier private moments. Can you imagine going on stage and talking about a visit to your Ob-gyn? I'd rather keep that stuff to myself, but she had both the men and the women laughing! After intermission – which included the opportunity to get some local wines and beers, and take them back to your seat to enjoy during the second half of the show – Mama came on stage.
Mama hasn’t changed at all, in case you were wondering. She is still opinionated, overbearing, and did I say, opinionated? The crowd laughed their way through her politically incorrect, socially awkward viewpoints. She asked “why did Newt Gingrich’s mother name him Newt? What was she thinking?" Mama backed up her poke with the definition of a newt (cross between a lizard and a frog) and reiterated that she did not think a mother should name her son that. “Of all the names!” Mama said. Oh, she didn’t let the President escape either and noted that there might be a few secret service agents looking for a job in security.
As we left the theatre, my sister and I noted that the crowd was most like “the moms” at the office, but there were a few of “the kids” prototype interspersed as well. No matter which generation, everyone was bubbling and smiling when we spilled out on to Seneca Street in Geneva. Maybe that common bond is also what happens after someone watches the Wiggles, but as for me – I’d rather go back a few years for my entertainment. (Sorry, Wiggles!)
Thanks Smith Opera House and Carrie’s One Day, Fun Day tours for bringing such a great show to Geneva and the Finger Lakes. I know there’s more coming – keep your eyes open because there truly is something for everyone!