The Best of All Possible Worlds by Don and Peg Doman
The Thursday night traffic clogged the freeway . . . bumper to bumper . . . stop and go . . . we gave up and turned around for home at the Fife Exit. Disheartened we called the friend we were going to meet and our granddaughter we were going to pick up for the production of Candide at the Fifth Avenue in Seattle. The next day we re-booked a Sunday matinee for Peg and I.
The Sunday was gray and wet. The Mariners' first pitch was about the same time as curtain time. It sounded like a possible mess on the freeway, again. We took Amtrak from Tacoma to Seattle. What a delight.
We arrived at the depot about 10:40, which was cutting it close. We should have arrived at 10:15, but we had picked up our tickets the evening before, so we cut outselves some slack. The train was four minutes late and came into the station at 11:00 a.m. sharp. We boarded the train right where we were told to stand and quickly found our seats with only a little befuddlement.
We purchased business class tickets, which cost just a little bit more, but are worth the price. Business class seats are arranged for two on one side and one on the other. They have more room, plus Amtrak gives you a three-dollar off coupon for the Bistro car. The Bistro car has a good selection. You can get items like Ivar's Clam Chowder (my favorite) and bagel chips and hummus (really, really good). You can have beer and wine, also, but be careful with what you buy, you have to walk through a swaying train to get back to your seat.
The train seemed to fly through the Puyallup and Kent Valley. We stopped in Tukwilla and then all of a sudden we were arriving at the King Street Station in downtown Seattle.
As we pulled into the station we looked at the crowds attending the Mariners' game. Our youngest son, his wife, and their oldest daughter and son would be somewhere on the 300 level. Our friend Andi Melquist and her daughter, Rachel had tickets for the 100 level.
Amtrak riders going to the game walk through the train station and then walk across the Safeco Field parking lot. It is a no-hassle way of getting to the baseball game. Next door is Quest Field, so Amtrak is excellent transportation to football games as well.
We chatted with Red Cap Louis Watson, who told us where to get coffee and pastry since we had a little time to kill before the play started. We walked a block and a half towards Pioneer Square and found Zeitgeist Coffee.
Peg had worried that we would be standing around waiting for the theater to open. Her fears were unfounded. At Zeigeist we found good coffee, truffles, and a wonderful raspberry bar. With interesting art, magazines, newspapers, and customers the open-spaced coffee bar had quite a bit of traffic. Zeitgeist is german for "the spirit of the times" or "the spirit of the age." We sat, ate, watched people, looked around, and drank our coffee with smiles on our faces.
At most coffee shops in Tacoma, I choose little brown packets of raw sugar to sweeten my brew. At Zeitgeist they had both sugar cubes and brown sugar cubes. They were not uniform size, which made them even more appealing to me. I added three brown sugar cubes to my 12 oz. coffee cup (and a little half-and-half to cool it off . . . to make it even more richer). When I drained the coffee cup I sucked in the remnants of the sugar cubes and crunched them with closed eyes and simple delight. When Peg poured me a little bit more of her coffee I repeated the ritual.
Peg spied an ornate security gate across the street. It reminded her of the work of Antoni Gaudí, the Catalan artist and architect. We had seen his structures in Barcelona two years ago.
We had just walked by the gate and fence a few minutes before, but had not seen the beauty that was within inches. From a little further away it drew the eye in and around the design.
After we finished our coffee and snacks, we crossed back to the gate. It was beautiful with a wooded theme. It could have been just bars to protect the business establishment, but instead it was a thing of beauty. Our niece from upstate New York had just visited us for a week and a half only a few days before our trip and she had mentioned how both Seattle and Tacoma have wonderful public art unlike her hometown. We are certainly blessed in the Pacific Northwest.
We had to walk a couple of blocks until we were able to flag a cab. Actually, the cab driver mentioned that he had seen us earlier, but he was delivering a fare to the baseball game. As we were dropped off at the Fifth Avenue, I paid the cabbie (he received a little more of a tip for looking out for us) while Peg went to "will call" for our tickets.
As I walked away from the cab, I saw a friendly face. Our friend Mike Dunbar and his mother were standing and waiting for Mike's wife Liz, and her mother. It was so nice of them to take their mothers to play. Peg is a member of the Tacoma Calligraphy Guild and she worships Liz's mother, Sonia who is a Sumi artist.
Thursday at Rotary I bid against Mike for tickets to Candide. A regular ticket holder donated the tickets when they were unable to go. At the time I didn't know who was bidding against me. Mike got a good deal, but he had to buy all four tickets, which worked out perfectly. He was a little worried, because the musical was booked as an opera.
The official storyline:
Having been taught by his beloved tutor, Dr. Pangloss, that "everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds" our handsome, yet hapless, hero Candide sets off on an epic journey to find his one true love -- the beautiful Cunegonde. Along the way he encounters wars, plagues, shipwrecks, earthquakes, pirates, swindlers, the Old World, the New World, the fabled lost city of Eldorado, and the Spanish Inquisition! Inspired by Voltaire’s classic satire this legendary musical features a sparkling score by the great Leonard Bernstein that includes the famous "Candide Overture", the hilarious and bravura showstopper "Glitter And Be Gay", and the moving and inspiring anthem "Make Our Garden Grow". This Seattle professional première offers you the rare opportunity to experience one of "the best musicals you’ve never seen!"
Mike needn't have worried. The musical was absolutely wonderful. The advertisements had said "Hilarious." It delivered. The music was fantastic, as was the acting. There were several show-stoppers. When Peg and I read through the program before the overture, we noted that we recognized about 75% of the large cast. The actors were some of our favorites that we have seen from Olympia to Tacoma to Seattle.
During intermission I chatted with the playgoer sitting on Peg's left. She works for the Paramount Theater. She was loving Candide as well as Peg and I. The three hour production kept our attention and of course received a standing ovation. Peg and I talked about the play all the way back to Tacoma and all the way through dinner.