The third weekend in October was a trick-or-treat bag full of the proverbial “good problems.” There was a wealth of distractions and activities for creatively oriented Mobilians that was also a window into frustration.
To start, Mobile Opera’s latest production of “Così fan tutte” ran this past weekend at The Temple downtown. Despite a dramatic venue change in the last few years, audiences have turned out for shows the company billed as an “up-close and personal” experience.
On Saturday morning, a new public art initiative titled Mobile Art GO! began with a ceremony at the Mobile Arts Council. Afterward, they strolled across downtown’s public art trail utilizing their new maps.
Almost every theater troupe was alive under the stage lights. As previously detailed in Lagniappe, Chickasaw Civic Theatre was beginning its run of “12 Angry Jurors.”
On the Eastern Shore, Theatre 98 was in the midst of staging “Putnam County Spelling Bee.” It’s been so successful they’ve extended the run into the first weekend of November.
Mobile Theatre Guild premiered the latest rendition of “Tuna Does Vegas.” The comedy based on small-town Texas eccentricity runs through Oct. 29, with proceeds donated to the victim relief fund for the Las Vegas mass shooting. Friday and Saturday shows are at 7:30 p.m., Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
Playhouse in the Park started its seasonally appropriate work, “The Conclusion of Edgar Allan Poe,” the same nights and has another weekend to go, with Friday and Saturday curtain at 7:30 p.m.
It’s a surprise Joe Jefferson Playhouse didn’t add to the fervor but their latest show, “Peter and the Starcatcher,” premieres Oct. 27. That guarantees even more tough choices ahead.
Consider, too, that the backdrop of distractions vying for eyes and dollars included the 55th rendition of the popular Greek Fest on Ann Street. Plus, the South’s most noted widespread mania — football season — is still eating up attention.
It’s easy to see the nature of this “good problem” now. There’s lots to do. The question is, does it divide the potential audience too much?
Into this tussle stepped Quest-Con. The latest entry into the pop culture convention industry staged its initial event at the Arthur Outlaw Convention Center in downtown Mobile for three days dedicated to film, literature, comics and other self-described “nerd” creative outlets.
In planning for a couple of years now, the team of convention organizers seemed understandably eager and a little nervous on Friday morning as they opened the doors to the convention hall.
Guest liaison Jeremy Mills addressed a small media gaggle and admitted the experience was going to be a chance to learn as they went along. Any endeavor with enough moving parts is an exercise in chaos theory and adaptation.
Mills said there had been a few hiccups early on, but nothing they couldn’t handle. He had no numbers on ticket sales — those likely won’t be ready until long after it’s over — but said ticket sales on the Tuesday before opening were more than double the advance sales to that point.
In Cooper Riverside Park, people put the finishing touches on something called the Wrecking Yard. The cluttered assemblage of scaffolding, tents and wind-tossed fabric was an allusion to a Mad Max-style bartering market.
They appeared to have few of the queuing issues that have plagued Pensacon in their first wildly successful years. There were no endless lines with a 45-minute wait to enter the facility in the middle of Saturday afternoon.
Video shot throughout the weekend shows the usual assortment of anime/manga, steampunk and comic book cosplayers in the halls. There was also an abundance of panels on such subjects as acting, costuming and writing, and workshops on drawing, stage fighting and crafting plastics.
Wandering through on Friday, I overheard a pair of attendees talking about their four-hour travel times to Mobile. That’s essential to making this a success as the bottom line is filling hotel rooms and bringing money to town.
I didn’t haunt downtown at night to see how many Quest-Con-goers made it to the Camellia Bay “Boo-lesque” show sponsored by the convention or were just hanging out in the entertainment venues. I know it would have been advantageous for local cosplayers, as their daytime garb would have fit the surfeit of Halloween parties on Saturday night.
That would be an advantage of dropping a new event into what’s already the most crowded part of Mobile’s calendar. Now if we could just find a way to spread some of this activity to our often-thin summer calendar, we’ll spread some of that happiness.
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