So while my whole country tuned in to the Super Bowl (American football championship game) on Sunday night, I shuttled number one son to the gorgeous Auditorium Theatre to attend a Chinese New Year song and dance extravaganza.
The program started with an introduction of dignitaries, including the PRC’s consul general in Chicago, a couple of Chicago politicians, and a representative from a senator’s office. These non-Chinese VIPs attempted a few words of Mandarin, which drew applause from the audience.
As luck would have it, a fabulous youth dance troupe from Hubei province performed throughout the evening. Number one son’s father is from Hubei. As for the singers, they performed a mix of nationalist songs (about soldiers, Tibet, and loving the motherland) and Beijing and Shanghai opera.
The show ran almost four hours without an intermission, but that didn’t deter the audience. When someone needed a bathroom break, he simply stood up and headed for the loo. Seated at the end of a row, I found myself standing up every ten minutes, but the people behind me didn’t seem to care. Nor did they shush me when I interpreted the songs or introductions to number one son. (The show started out bilingual, but quickly morphed into a monolingual one.)
One highlight occurred early on when a female singer pulled an audience member on stage to sing a Beijing opera duet. The audience member was a doctor in Chicago and had obviously spent time singing Beijing opera because he was quite wonderful.
And when the performance ended, the audience stood up and left in droves for the exits. The performers hadn’t finished bowing by the time most of the 3000+ attendees had left.
I certainly got more out of this event than the Super Bowl. And I think number one son did, too.