Out of the closet at the… WHERE?

Aug 26, 2013 | 4 comments

Bradley at Vespers, 2013

Bradley at Vespers, 2013

When Bradley came onstage in total drag from the north closet at the Oysterville Church, the place erupted!  Two huge, green feather fans, a long orange and bright yellow gown, and red lips enhanced to Botox proportions!  The Vespers crowd had never seen the like!

As the laughter and applause died down and Bradley launched into his ‘number,’ someone near me murmured, “Surely lightening will strike the church now!”  But, it didn’t, and once again, it was our outrageous, outspoken, and just plain ‘out’ neighbor Bradley who brought down the house – not a flash from the heavens!

Gwen and Bradley, Encore

Gwen and Bradley, Encore

And it wasn’t the only audacious part of the show!  (For ‘show’ it was – totally professional and impressively presented – a treat for ear and eye and, at least from my perspective, for sensibilities.)  The music was all by composer/lyricist Jerry Herman who, as Bradley said in his introduction, did a number of Broadway hits such as “Hello Dolly” and “Mame” but a number of flops as well.  “Get ready for a bumpy Vespers,” he said.

Not so!  Smooth as silk.  It was immediately apparent that Bradley and his singing partner, Gwen Haw, and their accompanist, Karen Kajita, have worked together before – for three decades in the Seattle area they said later.  I couldn’t help but wonder how many times they might have presented this particular show in the past.  It was seamless.

I also wondered what Episcopal Priest Irene Martin thought about the entire presentation.  Her own message to the congregation had been along conservative lines, illuminating a passage from the Bible and personalizing the fishing metaphor for us in the here and now.  It had been just right.  But so was her remark at the conclusion of the musical presentation:  “I must say that my only moment of discomfort was when Bradley came out with those green feather fans.  I felt I was underdressed for the occasion.”  Which also brought down the house.

A Ronco Family Enterprise

A Ronco Family Enterprise

In yet another surprise, Gwen’s 82-year-old mother, too, took center stage to sing several selections from “Mame.”    She, also, has sung and performed professionally for years and she was a delight.  “It’s an act I’ve had to follow all my life,” said Gwen as her mother returned to her front-row pew.

As we left the church we came face-to-face with my sixth-generation Espy cousins Ginger and Si and their lemonade stand – a little dose of reality after a somewhat surreal Vesper experience.  Nyel treated me to a glass of blackberry lemonade and it seemed the perfect ending to an extraordinary afternoon.  Kudos all around!

4 Comments

  1. Nora Durst

    Hi Sydney, I love it. When I was cleaning for Bradley the other day, I saw this costume and wondered what he was going to do with it. Now I know. This is wonderful, I wish I could have been there. I love your blog and look forward to it every morning. Just one request, is there any way that I could get copies of the photos of Bradley? Steven and I would love to have them. I tried to enlarge them off of here and could not. As I read this blog, I felt the smile and laughter bubbling up and could not contain it. Thank you for my first smile and giggle of the day. Thank you.

    Reply
  2. Nancy

    I’ll go with Nora’s last two sentences….the smile and laughter part particularly…I too read you blog (almost) every day. Yeah for Bradley and Friends!

    Reply
  3. Marion

    I too would have enjoyed his performance! He is quite a person and certainly brings Oysterville to life in many ways.

    Reply
  4. Greg

    Id love to store that lemonade sign in the store during the off-season!

    Thanks also for outing Bradley! LOL

    Reply

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