Radio Romance in "The Red Rose City"
PHC staffer Kate Swee is on the Radio Romance Tour with Garrison, Fred Newman, Aoife O'Donovan, Sara Watkins, and The Guy's All-Star Shoe Band and will update us periodically from the road.
Home of the 1st paved road in the U.S., the invention of Peeps, and the Fulton Opera House — the oldest continually-running theater in the country — we were happy to arrive in bright and sunny Lancaster, Pennsylvania. (Which we later learned was the Capitol of the Nation for one single day on Sep. 27, 1777!) Lancaster's (pronounced LANK-iss-ter by the locals) nickname of "The Red Rose City" is said to come the red rose symbol from the House of Lancashire, England — however, I didn't see any roses on my way to and from the venue, so I may call Shenanigans.
Located in South Central Pennsylvania, we saw rolling hills, neatly cultivated farms, covered bridges, and towns with picturesque names like "Paradise" and "Bird-in-Hand." We learned that Lancaster is in the heart of Amish Country, also known as Pennsylvania Dutch Country; the Amish, Mennonites, and Brethren of Dutch Country represent over 75,000 of Lancaster County's 500,000 residents. (Other uncommon town names included "Virginville" and "Intercourse," but we didn't get to visit those during our brief stay in the area...) During Garrison's opening monologue, he mentioned the Lancaster Central Market — the oldest continuously-operating farmers market in the US, dating back to 1899 — and joked about how many tourists come to purchase the handmade Amish flat-screen TVs and the Amish microwaves. The audience got a good laugh out of that one!
The beautiful American Music Theatre was packed, the liveliness of the crowd as enjoyable as ever. Every once and a while, we could hear the faint sound of goats bleating from a nearby farm through an open doorway, and could catch the sun disappearing behind the evergreens just as Garrison and Sara sang, "And you know, the sun's settin' fast on our town, on our town..." Our troupe left the theatre late in the night, with me staying behind to trade off with fellow Production Assistant Ella Schovanec once more. I waved goodbye to the buses heading for Vermont, settled down in my bed for a good night's sleep, and wished everyone "Good luck!" on their last week of this crazy, incredible month-long tour.