City The Moore: Perfectly Imperfect at 100
posted by December 11 at 14:30 PMon
Photos by Justin Renney
The cold air stopped at the front door of the Moore Theater last night. Beatboxing carolers provided a warm welcome, and, once inside, the place was a churning, humid flush of Vaudevillian action. There was a charge of untethered activity, what behind-the-scenes at a behind-the-scenes Bob Fosse production might feel like. It was as if the crowd—swarming with families and couples and rockers and nine-to-fivers—was roped into the performance. Which seemed willy-nilly in terms of talent: an opera singer, a burlesque teaser, a pair of acrobats, a classical violinist, a sax player hanging out in the balcony blowing between acts.
The theater itself is truly majestic, a century-old piece of Seattle history still fit to honor the tradition it established. Brendan Kiley recently wrote about the Moore’s decaying elegance; I’d never been inside the place before, so I had no idea. He’s right. The Moore is the best room I’ve been inside of in the city: unfussy, solid, grand and beautiful in its practicality. Nothing is built like that anymore.
The backstage, Vaudevillian atmosphere fit it keenly. Not to say the Moore’s centennial celebration was poorly planned. On the countrary, I bet whoever put the event together knew how perfectly chaotic the night would feel. That person also knew that the room itself demanded an old-fashioned free-for-all pace on this occasion. Watching adults and children maintain proper behavior in an unstructured environment can be very heartening.
A “secret bar” onstage allowed the intrepid to either ascend onstage past the MC in between acts (to gentle heckling) or find the out-of-the-way side door that led to stage right. Some younger kids tapdanced, some older kids tapdanced really well, the opera singer sang “Happy Birthday”, and hundreds and hundreds of people lined up for cake—a plastic-looking cake shaped like the Moore. Many of them stayed on-stage while someone played “Age of Aquarius” over the PA and the more boozed-up boomers pranced around waving their arms and the rest of us looked on perplexed.
Eventually, an ad-hoc rock band played cover songs at the back of the stage. Projections detailed all the performers that played the Moore in the last 100 years and all the videos made there. (“Evenflow”—I had no idea.) The cover songs kept coming—“Comfortably Numb,” “Crazy On You”—and some people left and others stayed for cake and beer while semi-chaos reigned and the old theater withstood it all.